The current crisis surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic has affected Sō Percussion as it has many artists and small businesses. The peak of our touring season, which represents the bulk of our revenue, was just commencing when the imperative for social distancing caused venues to cancel.
To date, the following events have been cancelled or postponed:
March 20th – Rutgers University
March 26th-29th – Big Ears Festival, Knoxville
April 3rd+4th – Cincinnati Symphony
April 7th – Dallas Symphony
April 18th – Annenberg Center, Philadelphia
April 28th – So Percussion Annual Benefit
The members, board, and staff of So Percussion are in constant communication to formulate plans for the near and medium-term. This situation is fluctuating hour-to-hour, and we will continually reassess our financial and programming strategies.
Currently, we are planning to proceed with all programs from July onward, including the Sō Percussion Summer Institute at Princeton University.
During the period of social distancing, we are initiating a number of service programs online, including mentoring session by the members of Sō Percussion for young artists, short videos about percussion for families with children at home, and an ongoing outreach project where we solicit submissions from composers and performers to highlight what they are working on.
On Thursday, February 6th, we debuted four new songs from our forthcoming album with Caroline Shaw entitled “Let the soil play its simple part.” The New York Times covered this all-Shaw portrait concert, which also included that fantastic Attacca Quartet and Shaw’s song cycle Narrow Sea:
An album of these is in the works, and perhaps it’s time to start rolling out the singles. The four songs heard on Thursday are radio-ready: infectious and inviting, but by no means facile. One, “Lay All Your Love On Me,” seems like a laugh-out-loud tribute to Abba: four lines delivered with childlike simplicity — a straightforward vocal melody accompanied by a vibraphone — that, repeated and evolving, blossom into a chorale of surprising beauty.
“Let the soil play its simple part” is planned for release this year. Grammy nominators, take note.
We will be performing “Let the soil play its simple part” on Saturday, February 15th with a FREE concert at Princeton, and also at the Big Ears Festival at the end of March.
So Percussion is thrilled to announce Brooklyn born Haitian-American flutist, composer, and vocalist Nathalie Joachim as the ensemble’s inaugural Andrew W. Siegel Composition Fellow. A two-year appointment, the Fellowship honors an emerging composer whose work demonstrates extraordinary promise, and who will receive support and collaborative development in the creation of a new work, culminating in a premiere and subsequent touring of the piece by Sō Percussion. Nathalie and Sō will work together throughout the next season, exploring and developing a sonic language and then workshopping this new project together. The resulting composition will premiere at Princeton University in September 2021, and Sō will continue to tour and document the work in the 21/22 season, and beyond.
Click here to learn more about the Andrew W. Siegel Fellowship. To read the full press release, click here.
OUT NOW! New Amsterdam Records releases
Dan Trueman’s Songs That Are Hard To Sing
Written for and performed by
Sō Percussion and JACK Quartet
Out today from New Amsterdam Records, Songs That Are Hard To Sing is an octet written by the incredible Dan Trueman for Sō Percussion and JACK Quartet, employing the bitKlavier, a prepared digital piano invented by Trueman that “makes all the notes between the keys become available.”
On Friday, November 22, we join Dan to celebrate the album release with a FREE event at Princeton University (where Dan is Professor of Music, and we are Performers-In-Residence). We will perform a bit with Dan, and JACK will join in with a special video message!
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Also today, Vic Firth releases the FULL video performance of the work as filmed by the awesome Four/Ten Media. Check it out below!
In 19/20, Sō Percussion is privileged to perform a deep library of new music in the US and throughout the world, including a happy return to Carnegie Hall, where we perform a program exploring a century of percussion music (including Sō’s latest commission, Julia Wolfe’s Forbidden Love)!
We also welcome new albums with Dan Trueman and the JACK Quartet, Buke and Gase, and Caroline Shaw – with whom we perform a series of concerts, including a Miller Theatre Composer Portrait.
In addition, we continue to tour our original work, Amid the Noise; welcome a gallery installation of the video art of From Out a Darker Sea; reunite with Nexus Percussion for Steve Reich’s Drumming; join Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony for David Lang’s man made – and more!
Read on, browse, and be in touch. We hope to see you soon!
A P E R C U S S I O N C E N T U R Y at Carnegie Hall
Our newest major commission is Julia Wolfe’s Forbidden Love, a string quartet (two violins, viola, cello), written for Sō Percussion. Says Wolfe: “The beautiful thing about Sō is that they are so open, so collaborative, full of adventure and can-do attitude. Together we discovered and drew out beautiful ethereal and crunchy sounds from this iconic quartet of instruments. In the process I developed a very personal new language (boings, szhings, hammering, and more).”
Wolfe’s Forbidden Love is the newest work on a program that articulates the influence of percussion on the language and execution of new music from the 20th century into the 21st. Whether you know and love this repertoire, or you are listening with totally fresh ears, this program, in this gorgeous venue, is going to be something special.
CARLOS CHÁVEZ Largo from Toccata for Percussion Instruments
JOHANNA BEYER March for 30 Percussion Instruments
JOHN CAGE Third Construction
STEVE REICH Music for Pieces of Wood
IANNIS XENAKIS “Peaux” from Pléïades
DAVID LANG Part 3 from the so-called laws of nature
DAN TRUEMAN 120bpm
JULIA WOLFE Forbidden Love (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
A M I D T H E N O I S E
Jason Treuting’s Amid the Noise began as a soundtrack, which morphed into our third album and then into a flexible set of live music. Now it is a communal music-making project that can occur with any number of musicians in almost any combination. Like Terry Riley’s In C, this work maintains its identity and integrity even through wildly different realizations.
In 19/20, we perform Amid the Noise in various forms:
• on Sept 13 for a season-opening concert at Princeton University (where we are Performers-in-Residence), alongside Princeton music students.
• Oct 23-27 with the Washington Ballet for NEXTSteps where we perform live to a new dance created by renowned choreographer John Heginbotham.
• As part of a Sō residency in Trinidad and Tobago in January (read more about this below!)
• and ELSEWHERE – more 19/20 dates to be announced!
C A R O L I N E S H A W
We are truly delighted to be be working this season with the Pulitzer-prize winning composer Caroline Shaw.
During the recording sessions, Caroline and Sō spent an extra day in the studio experimenting with new material. The result was so exciting that we decided we HAD to expand this material. In a subsequent recording session, ideas flourished; group tracks, duo tracks (Caroline and each member of Sō wrote/laid down a new song with only 60 minutes), and more.
We kick off the fall season at the Drum Boogie Festival, reuniting with the one and only Nexus Percussion for a performance of that foundational work of percussion: Steve Reich’s Drumming.
It’s our pleasure and honor to have filmed a performance of Drumming with Nexus percussion (as well as with Yumi Tamashiro, Beth Meyers, Alex Sopp, and Daisy Press), which will be released for the 50th anniversary celebration of the piece.
The Sō original production From Out a Darker Sea emerged out of multiple residencies in the industrial areas of Northeast England, known for coal mines and the social impact of their accompanying strikes and the loss of the industry (which many people know from the movie and musical Billy Elliot).
Commissioned by East Durham Creates as part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places program, and supported by a Sō residency through Forma, this original production features film and visual art we developed with Amber Films, inspired by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s photographic series The Coal Coast.
This fall, Princeton University is hosting an art installation which includes the original video and recorded music from From Out A Darker Sea!
OTHER NOTABLE ITEMS…
• This fall, we return to Lithuania for the Klaipeda Festival, where we perform Amid the Noise, as well as “classic” Sō repertoire by Bryce Dessner, David Lang, and Steve Reich.
• This season we are piloting a new Cultural Exchange Program, designed to encourage sharing between percussion traditions, where we can learn from performing alongside leading artists in an area while conducting educational residencies in partnership with nearby universities. In February 2020, Sō Percussion will travel to Trinidad, where we will collaborate with steel pan artists from Skiffle Bunch and Pan Elders, work with students at the University of Trinidad and Tabago, and perform (with local musicians) Amid the Noise as part of an educational residency.
• In the spring, we make our debut at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, playing a program of Dessner-Reich.
• We also happily reunite with Louis Langrée for Lully’s Le Bourgeois gentilhommeSuite and David Lang’s man made with the Cincinnati Symphony (Throwback to our performance of these works with Langrée at Mostly Mozart, complete with Turkish crescent!)
• AND, we’re delighted to welcome several new albums this season. Later this fall, look for Dan Trueman’s “Songs that Are Hard to Sing” from New Amsterdam Records, and a collaborative project from Brassland with our friends Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez – aka, Buke and Gase!
The “Noon to Midnight” festival is a daylong celebration of performances and premieres highlighting some of the most exciting new music happening all over the country. We are delighted to have premiered Julia Wolfe’s new piece “Forbidden Love,” a work for string quartet for Sō Percussion! We will also performed Suzanne Farrin’s “a diamond in the square,” a new work exploring sounds inside the piano.
Every successful artistic project depends on a web of contributors: composers, performers, technical specialists, writers, producers, and more. We love this process, and we love to teach it too. Join us at our 11th SōSI to dig deep on what makes these relationships work.
With faculty members Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Jason Treuting, Adam Sliwinski, Andrea Mazzariello, and Sarah Kirkland Snider, SōSI takes place at Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, July 14-28, 2019. Percussionists and Composers are welcome to apply!
For more information and application instructions please contact Yumi Tamashiro, SōSI Festival Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video Recording of Steve Reich’s DRUMMING with NEXUS, Sō Percussion, and Friends!
Nexus and Sō Percussion are so excited to join together to make a historical video recording of Steve Reich’s Drumming. It is such a rare opportunity to gather up two of the world’s best percussion groups to celebrate Drumming turning 50 years old. This fabulous team includes Nexus, Sō, Yumi Tamashiro, Daisy Press, Beth Meyers, and Alex Sopp. We are asking you to join us in this historical event by contributing what you can to make this project come to life! We need money to cover the cost of making the video recording (video, audio, and record label production).
As some of you might know, Russell Hartenberger and Bob Becker are both original members in Steve Reich and Musicians–a group which Reich himself performed in, premiered the majority of the Reich repertoire, and toured the world together for decades. Russell and Bob learned Drumming directly from Reich and for us who have heard them in concerts, we can attest to that fact that they have perfected the art of phasing! The earlier renditions of Drumming were mostly taught by rote; Russell and Bob were among the most important figures for establishing the piece as a part of the percussion repertoire and have carried the torch of imparting wisdom on this work in the past five decades.
Together, this world-class line up is going to make history and we invite you to be part of this history making project. Your donation is what makes this possible.